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Chris Brislin
Chris Brislin

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A Covid Opportunity

An airline pilot turned app developer by necessity

An abrupt change of direction

I won't bore you with backstory - but a small introduction instead. My name is Chris Brislin, I am an experienced airline pilot and an aspiring software developer.

As the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent and the demand for pilots dropped, I realised that it may be prudent to expand my skillset. I thought long and hard about which skills I could fit around my current work and interests. Airline flying means frequent multi-day trips around the country and even the world, but it is rare that we are without an internet connection. Software development seemed like it could fit neatly around my current life.

Thanks to close friends and relatives, I have always had an interest in electronics and software. I have many half baked Arduino projects sitting around as well as a few poorly produced HTML websites that I occasionally inflicted on the public. The skills I had learned from these hobbies were all self taught and were far from best practices. I needed to formalise my skills and learn how to learn!

After doing some research into available remote courses I came across Australis College's Diploma of Software Development. This course ticked all the boxes for me - fully remote, 18 month duration, and covered a complete set of topics from use of software tools to project management.

Ever creeping scope

The diploma was focused around mobile application development - specifically Android app development using Java, with the capstone project being a completed Android application deployed on the Google Play Store. For my capstone project I elected to build a basic electronic pilots logbook for the following reasons:

  1. It met the assessment criteria
  2. Currently available products are expensive and pilots are cheap.
  3. As a coworker once said to me "It's a glorified spreadsheet" - so how hard could it be? (Obvious foreshadowing)

This blog will be about the year following the start of that project as I re-wrote the application 3 times with 3 completely different tech-stacks and accommodated every growing project scope. Be prepared to cringe as this code newbie falls down every trap and re-invents the wheel several times. I look forward to entertaining you!

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